Oh, when will they ever learn. Oh, when will they ever learn.

Medicare has more than 50 years of history, misconceptions and mythology. It has has achieved an iconic status among many Canadians, as well as a certain degree of political correctness amongst members of the chattering classes and unions.

Most recently Chicken Little and her flock have been in full rhapsody outside a B.C. courthouse where Vancouver orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Day and several patients are pursuing the right of Canadians to access private care and for physicians to practise in both the public system, i.e., Medicare, and privately.

According to the lawyer for the B.C. Nurses’ Union, private health clinics offend “the very notion of what it means to be a British Columbian and a Canadian.” She then upped her rhetoric with phrases such as “flagrantly unlawful profiteering” and advancing self-interest “at the expense of the continuation of the public health care system.”

Another lawyer, representing the B.C Friends of Medicare Society and Canadian Doctors for Medicare, conjured up the end of universal health care with inequalities in access, accelerated cost increases, compromised care, and repercussions within the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] — all very, very scary stuff!

Which brings to mind the song made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary,  Where have all the flowers gone, and its recurring chorus:

“Oh, when will they ever learn
“Oh, when will they ever learn”

The court case proceeds as yet another research study demonstrates how Medicare continues to shortchange Canadians — as patients and as taxpayers — with a dismal performance and mediocre value compared with the universal health care systems in other countries. https://www.fraserinstitute.org/studies/comparing-performance-of-universal-health-care-countries-2016

Comparing Performance of Universal Health Care Countries, 2016 uses 2012 data to compare 28 universal health-care systems in developed countries, spotlighting several key areas including cost, use of resources, access to care and treatment, clinical performance and quality, and the health status of patients.

  • Canada’s health-care spending as a share of GDP (10.6%) ranked third highest—after adjusting for age—behind only the Netherlands and Switzerland.
  • Canada ranked 24 out of 28 countries for number of physicians [2.59 per 1,000 people].
  • Canada ranked last for the number of acute care beds [1.77 per 1,000 people].
  • Canada ranked 18 out of 26 for the number of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines with 9.2 MRIs per million people. Japan ranked first with 36.7 MRIs per one million people, four times more than Canada.
  • As for wait times, Canada ranked last for the percentage of patients [29%] who waited two months or more for a specialist appointment.
  • Canada ranked second-last for the percentage of patients [18%] who waited four months or longer for elective surgery. Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany all reported significantly shorter wait times.
Canada’s government-run health care system – Medicare -- is a monopoly that prohibits private hospital and private physician care. Medicare is a subpar performer, ranking 10th among 11 advanced countries. Canadians deserve much better! Patients deserve timely access to quality care and choice of hospitals and physicians. Taxpayers deserve much more value for their tax dollars.

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